Projects

Proposed Neighborhood Change Index for Bexar County, Texas

NALCAB Neighborhood Change Index

Type:
Urban Research

Principal Investigator:
Esteban López Ochoa, Assistant Professor

Research Team:
Ian Caine, Associate Professor, Director, Center for Urban and Regional Planning Research; Luis Escalante, MSURP(c), Graduate Research Assistant

Description:
The National Association of Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB) is a national network of 160+ nonprofit organizations that serve diverse Latino communities in forty states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. One of NALCAB’s organization goals is to provide their affiliates with an accurate measure of neighborhood change. With this study, CURPR and HOUSED Lab presented NALCAB with a detailed examination of neighborhood change indices and proposed four alternatives. The study assesses the effectiveness of each index as well as their appropriateness to track neighborhood change. Taken together, the results and indices provide NALCAB with guidelines to clarify the definition of neighborhood change, select an appropriate index, understand how to interpret each index, and assess each index’s limitations and strengths.


A Modular Community for Seasonal Migrant Farm Workers
A Modular Community for Seasonal Migrant Farm Workers

A Modular Community for Seasonal Migrant Farm Workers

Type:
Urban Design

Principal Investigators:
Ian Caine, Associate Professor, Director, Center for Urban and Regional Planning Research; Gabriel Díaz Montemayor, MLA, Founding Partner, LABOR Studio

Research Team:
Trent Tunks, Architect; Joe Valadez, Graduate Assistant; Tiffany Vargas, Graduate Assistant

Description:

This speculative proposal is located in the Rio Grande Valley, a transborder region in Texas USA that lies in the floodplain of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo River adjacent to the Mexican State of Tamaulipas. The region is home to more than 2,000 colonias–informal, unincorporated settlements that flood regularly. Colonias typically lack civil infrastructure like sewer systems, paved roads, and potable water. In Texas, 400,000 people live in these settlements. Many are migrant workers from Northern Mexico who come for seasonal agricultural jobs.

Typical modular housing units are standardized, prefabricated, packed, shipped, and assembled onsite. This proposal imagines a farming cooperative that extends modular efficiencies beyond housing to the entire site, unitizing the subdivision of land, utilities, flood control, and food production.


Texas Boulevard in Downtown Weslaco. Image: Wikimedia Commons

City of Weslaco Comprehensive Plan Update

Type:
Urban Research and Design

Principal Investigator:
Ian Caine, Architect, Associate Professor of Architecture

Researchers:
Bill Barker, FAICP, CURPR Researcher; Marcio Giacomoni, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Civil Engineering; Albert Han, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning; Thomas Tunstall, M.B.A., Ph.D., Director of Research, Institute of Economic Development; John Franklin, M.Arch candidate, Research Assistant; Francisco Gonzalez, M.Arch candidate, Research Assistant (Research Assistant)

Description:
The City of Weslaco is a rapidly expanding community located in the Rio Grande Valley with a population of 42,000. Once part of a Spanish land grant known as Llano Grande, Weslaco was incorporated in 1921 and today exists as part of the Reynosa-McAllen metropolitan area, a transnational conurbation along the U.S.-Mexico border. This is one of the fastest growing urban areas in the United States and one of the most populous in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. CURPR researchers will work with Weslaco residents and City officials to address the effects of rapid urban growth, specifically as it relates to issues of downtown revitalization, housing, parks, flood control, transportation, economic sustainability, and environmental resilience. The process will begin with three public charrettes that allow residents to express their ideas, examine potential options, and help generate future growth scenarios that align decision-making with community values.


This diagram classifies the current physical, functional, and programmatic condition of I-410. The research team is working to transform this critical infrastructure to accommodate new transportation modes and programs.

Retrofitting Interstate 410

Type:
Urban Research and Design

Principal Investigator:
Ian Caine, Architect, Associate Professor of Architecture

Researchers:
Bill Barker, FAICP, Adjunct Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning (Co-Principal Investigator); Ivan Ventura, B.S. Arch candidate (Research Assistant)

Description:
This urban research and design project explores the transformation of 20th-century highways from mono-functional, automobile-focused infrastructures to multi-functional, multi-modal transportation networks. The site is Interstate 410 in San Antonio, Texas, where ubiquitous frontage roads and U-turn lanes offer significant infrastructural redundancies providing the site for a large-scale suburban retrofit project. Preliminary site research reveals that San Antonio’s inner-ring highway network offers the short-term potential to absorb new users, and the long-range potential to transform into a metropolitan connector for new transportation modes and programs. The initial goal is to retrofit selected U-turn lanes and frontage roads, repurposing them from automotive streets to protected bicycle and pedestrian amenities. The longer-term vision is to transform the infrastructure to accommodate new transportation modes and programs.


Comfort residents discuss their community’s future at one of four public visioning sessions.

Comfort Vision 2050

Type:
Urban Design and Planning 

Principal Investigator:
Ian Caine, Architect, Associate Professor of Architecture

Researchers:
Bill Barker, FAICP, Adjunct Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning (Co-Principal Investigator); William Dupont, FAIA, Professor of Architecture (Co-Principal Investigator); Matthew Jackson, Director, Director of the Small Business Development Center National Information Clearinghouse (Co-Principal Investigator); Corey Sparks, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Demography (Co-Principal Investigator); Thomas Tunstall, M.B.A., Ph.D., Director of Research, Institute of Economic Development (Co-Principal Investigator); Elizabeth Striedel, M.Arch candidate, Research Assistant; Ivan Ventura, B.S. Arch candidate, Research Assistant

Description:
Comfort, Texas is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) in western Kendall County that cover 3.24 square miles and in 2016 was home to 3441 residents. Established in 1854 by German immigrants, today Comfort resides at the western edge of the San Antonio-New Braunfels Metropolitan Statistical Area and is facing intense growth pressures associated with its position within one of the fastest growing areas in the United States. COMFORT VISION 2025 imagines a future for Comfort, based on community values, that will guide future decision-making and inspire residents towards action.


Image: City of San Antonio Neighborhood & Housing Services Department

NEZ Impacts Estimator

Type:
Applied Research in Urban Planning 

Principal Investigator:
Ian Caine, Associate Professor of Architecture

Researchers:
Albert Han, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning; Mark Robinson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Practice in Computer Science; Rebecca Walter, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Real Estate, University of Washington; Laura McKieran, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Management, Policy, and Community Health, University of Texas Health School of Public Health; Kristin Flores, City of San Antonio, Neighborhood & Housing Services Department; Rhia Pape, City of San Antonio R&D League.

Description:
The NEZ (Neighborhood Empowerment Zones) Impacts Estimator is a transdisciplinary, applied research project led by CURPR in collaboration with the City of San Antonio’s Neighborhood and Housing Services Department (NHSD) and Office of Innovation. The applied research project creates an online tool that aggregates, maps, and indexes critical data to improve the effectiveness of Neighborhood Empowerment Zones, which subsidize the production and maintenance of affordable housing in San Antonio. The online tool will help NHSD select, track, evaluate, and adjust the location of NEZs to improve the effectiveness of the subsidy program. NEZs, permitted by Chapter 378 of the Texas Local Government Code, offer policymakers a tool to improve housing affordability and stability, decrease residential segregation, and increase equitable access to opportunity-rich neighborhoods. The NEZ Impacts Estimator creates positive impact throughout the San Antonio metropolitan area by increasing equitable access to affordable housing and helping at-risk residents.

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